Bible Reading Plan
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Weekends: Read any passages of your choice or catch up if you’ve fallen behind 🙂
 
 
 
 
 
 
How To Soul Journal
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Journal Entries
Every weekday you will find a journal entry here from someone different in our church family. 
 
Click the scripture title and scroll down to see a comments section where you can ask questions, share insights and post your own SOUL Journal entry for the day!
 

Isaiah 8

 

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Scripture

Isaiah 8:10

   Devise your strategy, but it will be thwarted;
propose your plan, but it will not stand,
for God is with us.

Observation – What does it say?

Often times in the Old Testament, prophets would not only speak their messages but they would act them out. And here, God asked Isaiah to embed his message into the name of his child. His name Maher-shalal-hash-baz means swift-the-spoils-of-war-and-speedy-comes-the-attacker. God’s message through Isaiah to Ahaz was this: “The two countries currently threatening you will soon be conquered by Assyria. Assyria will attack quickly, defeat them and carry off the spoils of war from Damascus and Samaria. So there is no need to fear them. Instead, trust in your God.”

Then God spoke to Isaiah again, and this second message was directed toward the nations who would threaten his people. God tells the nations that they can prepare for battle but it will be a waste of time. No matter what strategy they could devise or plan they could come up with to defeat God’s people, it’s wouldn’t succeed because God would be with his people.

Understanding – What does it mean?

God is with those who trust in him, providing safety and security.

What’s amazing about this verse is that it doesn’t just say the enemy’s plans wont stand because “God’s plan is superior” or because “God will come to fight for us,” but because “God is with us”! God with his people would make all the difference in the outcome. The power of presence…

I wouldn’t say I’m afraid of the dark. I just, uh… I just prefer the light. As a kid, I hated taking the trash cans out to the street after dark. My parents would send me out there and I’d be pulling trash cans behind me while scanning the bushes and continually looking behind me. Any slight noise and I’d almost pee. As soon as I would get the trash cans to the street I would sprint for the front door of the house, slam the door behind me and breath a deep sigh of relief. But, if someone came with me it was a different story. If my dad helped me and was next to me as I walked down the driveway I was completely different. No fear, no worry, no running, no panic. I’d take my time, joking and talking with my dad, and I almost wished something would come out of the bushes so I could watch my dad whoop it. My dad’s presence with me made all the difference in my ability to to face the dark without fear.

How much more amazing to think that the One who is with us always is the God of the universe?! It doesn’t matter the size of the enemy or how great the danger, God is greater. As we read a few days ago in Isaiah 6, God’s throne is high and exalted. There is none above him, none more powerful, none even close to equal with him. And this God, although he dwells on high, also chooses to dwell within each believer.

Matthew 28:20 And surely I am with you, even to the end of the age.

Romans 8:31 If God is for us, who can be against us?

Isaiah 54:17 No weapon forged against you will prevail… This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord…

Life Application

Trust in God! Whether or not I can feel or see him, God is always with me! He is present to protect and guide me.

God, thank you for your constant presence with us. Please cause that truth to sink in and to wash away any fear or anxiety we might be carrying. We give it all to you. We look to you and put our trust in you this morning. Amen.

 
 
 


Ezra 4

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Scripture

Ezra 4:4

 Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building.

Observation – What does it say?

The enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard they were rebuilding their temple and sought to frustrate them and keep them from building it. According to the last verse in the chapter, they succeeded in their efforts to halt the building project.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Whenever you make a commitment to the Lord, be prepared to face the enemy’s unrelenting attempt to set you back.

Verse 1 says the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard they were building a temple to the God of Israel. The reality is that we can’t build a church building to facilitate ministry, build new habits to grow spiritually or build others up spiritually without the enemy hearing about it. And then he comes prowling, seeking to do what he can to derail us.

Unfortunately, many people don’t realize this. When making a new commitment to God, many assume that since they’ve now turned to God that everything is going to go well from here on out. “God is finally on my side and my hopes haven’t been higher!” And at that moment the enemy attacks leaving them discouraged and feeling lower than before they turned to God.

Over the past month alone I’ve seen many people who have made a commitment to God to step up their personal spiritual growth including me. Some setting new goals for daily prayer and many choosing to develop the habit of daily SOUL Journaling. And, after following up with them about following through with their new commitment, nearly every person has explained to me how difficult life has been, how busy they’ve been and rattle off lists of excuses for why they haven’t been able to follow through. The enemy has been attacking many of us with busyness and distraction and our spiritual construction has slowed, and for some of us halted completely.

Life Application

Be prepared to face the enemy’s attempts to set me back!

My experience with this isn’t just by observing others second hand. I’m experiencing this in my own pursuit of God in this present season. God moved on my heart mid-September to really step up my pursuit of him in the secret place. And since then, I’ve experienced more busyness and distraction than I have all year.

God, give me wisdom in this season. Give me strength to overcome the attacks of the enemy. Grant us, your church, the power to stand firm and continue building spiritually and the power to say “No” to busyness and distractions. Amen.



Ezra 3

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Scripture

Ezra 3:3
Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both the morning and evening sacrifices.

Observation 

The exiles who had returned to Jerusalem were afraid of the people groups around them. Their enemies who lived close by would easily be able to come in and attack or harass them since they hadn’t yet rebuilt the wall around the city. Yet, even though they were afraid, they still chose to build the altar and offer their sacrifices to God.

Understanding

Since my son started school a couple months ago, one of the theme words for him has been courage. “What does it mean to be a Thompson?” I’ll ask every day before dropping him off at school. And one of the first things he says is, “It means we are courageous.” I’m not sure what the dictionary definition is, but I defined it for him as, “Doing the right thing even when it isn’t easy.” Even if you’re afraid of leaving my side when I drop you off at school in the morning, you still need to choose to go line up with the other kids. Even if you’re tired, you still need to choose to do your homework. Even if someone asks you to do something you know you shouldn’t do, you still choose to do what’s right. It’s all part of being courageous.

When reading this passage in Ezra, courage was the word that kept appearing in my mind’s eye. The people of God were courageous, willing to do what they knew was right even though they were afraid of the people around them. They chose to build the altar even though it meant risking the possibility of their enemies coming and destroying it again. They chose to offer sacrifices to worship God even though their enemies would be watching.

Life Application

Be courageous!

One quote I keep being reminded of lately is, “We either live to please people or to reach people, but one comes at the expense of the other.”  I want to live to worship God no matter who is watching. I want to live to reach people for Christ more than to please people. I want to be honest and act in integrity even when it’s hardest.

God, please help me to be strong and courageous when it comes to doing your will. Amen.

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